Desktop vs. Mobile Ads


Users are served ads on nearly every digital platform imaginable. From browsing on Facebook and Instagram, watching videos on YouTube, and searching through Google results based on Internet searches, digital ads are all around us (and we may not even notice it!). As you strategize your paid advertising efforts, it’s important to consider how your ads are being interpreted on both desktop and mobile devices.

Sage Digi will uncover points to consider when creating and amplifying paid ads to best-reach your target audience, showcase products, and increase CTR on both platforms.

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the main differences between mobile and desktop ads. As the term signals, mobile ads are advertisements that are specifically created to suit mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets. On the other hand, desktop ads are those that are displayed on full size computer monitors. The biggest difference is device size, which in turn influences the structure, design, side, wording, and even colors used for each type of ad.

Advertising Strategies Based On Users

Which device do you spend most of your time on: Your cell phone or your computer?

Every paid advertising strategy begins with analyzing a brand’s goals, target audience, and where that target audience spends most of their time. If you’re trying to reach the 18-34 demographic, you may want to spend more time on creating mobile-specific ads to reach this influential audience. In fact, according to TechJury, users check their phones an average of 63 times per day, and have about 5.4 hours of daily screen time. There are multiple platforms available on mobile devices that provide additional outlets for advertisers to create and amplify their ads, specifically on Instagram and Snapchat.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the biggest differences between desktop and mobile ads, and how each should influence your ongoing creative digital advertising strategies.

User Reachability

Mobile ads continue to stand out from desktop ads, simply because mobile devices go with us everywhere. A majority of people use mobile devices as a primary source of content consumption, which is a goldmine for advertisers to implement specific paid advertising strategies. You want to take advantage of every nook and cranny where your target audience is reachable. What percent Google searches happen on a mobile phone? See below:

A majority of people use mobile devices as a primary source of content consumption, which is a goldmine for advertisers to implement specific paid advertising strategies.

Real-Life Result: One of Sage Digi’s health and wellness clients saw an increase of over 80% on Google search mobile traffic. If they can accomplish this with us, imagine how our team can help you!

Personal Targeting

Personal targeting is a custom aspect of digital marketing that helps marketers narrow-in on who, how, when, and where their ads are being displayed. We briefly touched upon this point in our PPC Takeaways to Pave 2021 article, and it’s super important for brands to tap into available user data to refine ad targeting.

Mobile combines personalized search experience with powerful tracking capabilities, including location, “likes” based on products and brand pages, and other factors. All of this user data is saved and can be accessed by marketers, which influences their personal targeting efforts. But things are changing. Apple announced that iOS 14 will be fundamentally different where all iPhone users will be prompted to allow apps to track their location. This will be a major change for Facebook Marketers. Be sure you stay ahead of the game!

Desktop ads do have some of these capabilities, but are limited based on IP addresses and the chance of multiple users conducting searches from the same source. This mix of data can make it cloudy for marketers to target and deliver specific ads to help users meet their search requests.

Ad Designs

From colors to font size choices and so much more, the design of your mobile and desktop ads are a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to grabbing the attention of target and potential audiences. Here’s what to consider:

  • Include short and concise call to actions
  • Appropriately scale your ads to complement either mobile or desktop screens
  • Use colors that catch the attention of users
  • If adding video to a mobile ad, make sure it’s condensed and loads properly

Think of it this way: When scrolling on your phone, your eyes may be drawn to attractive designs since the area is condensed. When using your full-size computer, you have more screen bandwidth that allows for a more full, visual ad experience (great for video, think YouTube).

Conversion Rates

Since desktops offer the most comfort and visibility due to their large screens, they’re usually preferred by users when it comes to browsing and making online purchases. These conversions are more direct since users can absorb more of the experience to connect their initial intent with the final purchase goal.

Mobile searches display ads that often result in a pre-purchase stage. What does this mean? When users are curious about a product or service, picking up their mobile phone is extremely convenient to conduct pre-purchase research. As stated above, users are more likely to actually make a purchase on their desktop computer to get the most out of the experience and feel secure.

So what does it come down to: The convenience of mobile or a full-circle desktop experience? Which will deliver strong conversion rates and reach new audiences? Connect with Sage Digi for a free consultation to see where you can improve.

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